Tour de Blog

I was invited on the Tour de Blog by Ali Bryan Author of Roost. Here are my answers to the four tour questions and I hereby tag Samantha Warwick the Director of Calgary Operations for the Writers’ Guild of Alberta and author of Sage Island for the next blog stop.

Please see the bottom of the page for previous tour stops.

What am I working on?
I’m currently working on my second novel which I call The Amazing Adventures of Mattress Boy. It’s like wrestling a fifty-two headed monster at this point and lately I hate it greatly until, at moments, I love it again. The protagonist is an eighteen year old boy/man called Sebastian Quincy McPhail. His mother makes him dress up as a mattress to wave in front of the family furniture store. With hippies and babies, doppelgängers and headbangers, from attending university to living in a grain bin, from starving in communes to selling Papal souvenirs, pigeon companions and confounding visions Sebastian adventures through the 1980’s looking for the 1960’s.
Here are some of the things pinned above and around my desk that relate to the work:

I’ve heard newborn babies wailing like a mourning dove
And old men with broken teeth stranded without love
Do I understand your question then is it hopeless and forlorn?
Come in, she said, I’ll give you shelter from the storm.
-Shelter from the Storm- Bob Dylan

“Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness. Wabi-sabi is ambivalent about separating beauty from non-beauty or ugliness. The beauty of wabi-sabi is in one respect, the condition of coming to terms with what you consider ugly.”
-Leonard Koren-

How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I’m not really sure what my genre is. I called Dance Gladys Dance a “darkly comedic dissident chick lit ghost story with deep(ish) social meaning” which I don’t think is a bookstore category. I think humorous works by women are often given a pink cover and relegated to the “chick lit category” which removes them from general readership.
Here are some examples of female vs male covers inspired by Maureen Johnson (scroll down for a cover flip gallery).

I would work the rest of my life to be placed on a bookshelf in between Roddy Doyle and Kurt Vonnegut.

Why do I write what I do?
I write to explore issues and characters that intrigue me in some way. I love to read something that makes me think about society in a new way or offers me new insights into the way people work.
My writing is very much character driven. I’ve often said that I have a ‘character problem’. When I was living in a big city and regularly went thrift store shopping I developed a ‘lamp problem’. Who knew there were so many fabulous lamps to be had for next to nothing? Unfortunately there is a limit to the number of lamps that one can usefully own and eventually The Great Lamp Purge occurred. I have the same sort of problem with creating characters. Look ma, I can make a person out of nothing but words and paper. And because I can and because I enjoy it I have to watch that the characters I create have a useful place in my story. I recently removed “Germ Free Berdine” a myopic intellectual stranded in a northern town from my manuscript and I miss her greatly but she no real purpose and so had to go.

How does my writing process work?
My writing process is slightly messy. I write and figure out as I go. I often have twice as many pages of notes as I do of actual draft. In Dance, Gladys, Dance I knew nothing at the beginning except that I wanted to look at the idea of a woman trying to give up on her art. In the Amazing Adventures of Mattress Boy I know the beginning and the ending and am writing my way from one to the other- with much lurching back and forth.
Writing sometimes breaks my heart and sometimes lifts me way up above the madding masses. I write whenever I can. I am still the infamous small town Co-op grocery store clerk/writer in residence and my days off can still be filled with errands and laundry. I have been wandering around muttering “August is mine” for several months, so with four days off a week and no travelling or speaking engagements I hope to accomplish fabulous things during that month- which begins two days from now. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Ali Bryan  Leanne Shirtliffe  Bradley Somer  Janie Chang Theodora Armstrong Kathy Page  Lorna Suzuki Barbara Lambert Matilda Magtree Alice Zorn Anita Lahey Pearl Pirie          Julie Paul Sarah Mian Steve McOrmond Susan Gillis  Jason Heroux Christine Miscione Gary Barwin Rob Mclennan Robin Houghton Jayne Stanton Maria Taylor Kim Moore Em Strang Rachel Connor Laura Wilkinson Jenny Kane Jane Jackson Anne Stenhouse and the beat goes on…

 

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